Orange County Officials Defend Hotels As COVID-19 Care Sites

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
April 3, 2020Updated: April 3, 2020

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (CNS) – Orange County officials on April 2 defended their use of hotels to house some transients ill with COVID-19 in the coming weeks, saying it is better to quarantine them in a safe space rather than let them wander the streets risking infection to others.

Laguna Woods officials have objected to the county renting out the 138-bed Ayres Hotel at 24341 El Toro Road, in a community where more than 80 percent of residents are 65 and older and are considered among the most at risk of dying from the CCP virus.

About 90 percent of the city consists of Laguna Woods Village, a private gated retirement community formerly known as Leisure World.

City officials complained they were not consulted and encouraged residents to appeal to the county board to overturn the decision.

“The city is deeply concerned with the County of Orange’s unilateral decision to place individuals afflicted with COVID-19 right in the middle of the most concentrated community of older adults in Orange County,” Laguna Woods Mayor Noel Hatch said in a statement.

“I have spoken with Supervisor [Lisa] Bartlett and requested that the Orange County Board of Supervisors revisit county staff’s decision to open this facility, recognizing that a greater danger will be created for an entire segment of the very population they’re trying to protect.”

Bartlett, however, told City News Service that using the Ayres Hotel actually makes the community safer from the virus.

“It’s an isolation, lockdown facility,” Bartlett said.

She added: “All medical services will be done on site. They do not leave the facility. … This is to protect the public at-large and the homeless, as well.

“If we can keep those who do test positive in isolation lockdown facilities throughout the county, then it will help ensure they get better and don’t end up having to be hospitalized, because we want to make sure we have an many hospital beds open as possible.”

The hotels that the county is looking to rent throughout the area would be open to the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and deemed at high risk of the virus, those suspected of having the virus, and those who have tested positive, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said.

“We’re trying to take the high-risk people out into individual rooms,” Kim said.

The transients housed in the facilities would not be allowed to come and go.

Supervisor Don Wagner said a hotel in Orange, which is in his district, is also going to be used.

“We’re all kind of in this together, pitching in,” Wagner said. “The folks are going into the hotel, they’re going to be secure in there. It’s not like we’re turning them loose to get everyone in Laguna Woods infected.”

Wagner noted Gov. Gavin Newsom has told county officials to find locations for the homeless.

“The governor has told us to find these locations, and we know we need to find them,” Wagner said. “We have a number of locations in various stages of discussion. This was one of the first that came online.”

Wagner brushed off threats from Laguna Woods officials who say they are “exploring legal action.”

“They can sue us, and by the time the courts are open the problem will have resolved itself,” Wagner said.

“I’m not overly sympathetic. Although Laguna Woods is not in my district, there is a spot in my district coming online, so we’re all in this together.”

Wagner said the hotel owners should be praised.

“Thank you to the Ayres Hotel folks who stepped up, because they’re helping us in South County with a serious problem,” Wagner said.

Supervisor Doug Chaffee said the county was in an “emergency situation,” and that if a hotel is found in his district, “I will welcome it.”

Bartlett pointed out that only South County transients would be housed at the Ayres Hotel, and the population of homeless in that region is low.


The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.